How music helps young patients recover

Healthwatch
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Four teenagers were rushed to the hospital with life-threatening illnesses…and they left recording stars! 

It was a chart-topper even before she was born, but 17-year-old Clara Jackson used the song as a key piece of her recovery from an illness that could have killed her. 

Matt Logan, Music Therapist, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital says, “They weren’t just away at the hospital being sick. They were away at the hospital and creating something.” 

Jackson and three other teens had bone marrow transplants to live. That meant eight weeks of isolation. But a San Francisco music therapist used Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ to raise each teen’s spirits as well as connecting them.  

Logan says, “We have the ability to take our recording studio and go remote with it. I could go to each of their rooms and record. And we were able to layer this and combine it in such a way that it created this whole piece.” 

Jackson adds, “I think it was cool listening to all the voices when we started recording it. I wasn’t going to do it because I was shy. And then my mom was like this is a once in a lifetime thing.” 

Martha Jackson, Clara’s mom says, “When every time we see him come around with his music and his guitar and it was like I know we’re going to have a good time.” 

Music therapy is designed to help hospital patients think beyond their immediate surroundings and to hope for a better tomorrow. Research shows it not only releases negative emotions, it improves heart rates and breathing.

Jessica Manning, Social Worker, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital says, “I think having music in a room will transform anyone.”

Jackson continues, “It made me feel better. Put a smile on my face.” 

Jackson shared the recording with her family and, after she was released from isolation, she was able to meet the rest of her special hospital ‘quartet’.

She adds, “It was cool. Now we got four new friends.”

The hospital also recorded a music video of the quartet of patients-turned-singers and provided it to the patients so that they can share with family and friends. 

In addition to bone marrow transplants, music therapists, like Logan, work to treat anything from motor skill problems to stress. 

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